When it comes to nutritional value in beverages, some drinks are the villains (soft drinks) and some are good guys (unsweetened fruit juice). And then there are beverages, that walk a fine line between being good and bad for your health. Scroll below to learn the nutritional benefits of one such confusing beverage, dessert wine.
“A fine meal…is a delight in itself; add a glass of wine–gleaming red or translucent greenish gold–and delectation will be doubled.” ~ Alexis Lichine’s New Encyclopedia of Wine and Spirits
There are some foods that are meant to complement each other in flavor and so enhance the consumer’s pleasure in having them. For example, the crisp potent bite and crunch of nachos is complemented by the gooey, thick sauce of cheese drizzled over it. And such a relationship is even extended to certain beverages and foods going hand-in-hand. Ever notice how you chow down a cheeseburger and large fries, but still only a soda will quench your taste? The same applies to afternoon tea time, whereas with the tea, you need a biscuit, crumpet or pastry cake. A similar but winning combination is that of wine and desserts.
What are Dessert Wines?
Wine is perhaps the most cosmopolitan and versatile of all alcoholic beverages. It suits large gatherings and parties as a party beverage, it is a beverage in which one can drown one’s sorrows in and its taste can suit the easiest and the fussiest of palates. While there is wine for socializing and wine for the main course, one type of wine is dessert wine, which is wine reserved for consumption with dessert or sweet dishes. Such wines are even sweet and filling enough to serve as liquid substitutes for a dessert. Dessert wines are noted for their rich, thicker and much sweeter taste over regular wines. In fact, while planning a menu, one must pick a dessert wine that is sweeter in taste, than the dessert it will be accompanying.
Dessert wines can be served with bite-sized treats like biscuits, petit-fours and tarts and with fruits as well. For large desserts with a chocolate or toffee base, the choice of wine has to be precise and fitting, as these desserts are sweet enough on their own. Also the wine must be served in small glasses, to be sipped and savored while eating, instead of drinking it or gulping. There are different types and brands of dessert wine, such as port, sherry, Madeira, Sauternes and late harvest wines.
Why are dessert wines so much sweeter than their regular counterparts? Their high sugar content can be due to the type of grape used. Some grape species like Muscat, are naturally richer in sugar, as compared to other grapes. Then there are techniques like sussreserve, a German wine-making technique, where unfermented grape juice is added to fermented wine, to increase the amount of sugar in the wine. Another technique is making ice wine, where the wine grapes are only used after the frost of winter has frozen the grapes on the vine.
Nutritional Profile of Dessert Wines
Wine is one confusing beverage when it comes to its nutritional value. Is it good for you or is it bad for you? And what about the calories in dessert wine? Let’s start with the benefits of drinking such wine.
- Wine contains tannins, which are chemical ingredients that bring about the unique taste, smell and color of wines. Tannins cause that dry feel and tingly bitterness in your mouth, after a sip of wine. But they also have a healthy effect on your circulatory system and heart.
- Red dessert wines have a very high content of antioxidants. So the risk of contracting diseases like cancer, certain heart conditions and diabetes is greatly reduced.
- Another chemical ingredient of dessert wines, resveratrol, is being researched for its impact on the lifespan of living beings. It is said to have an anti-aging effect and also helps in increasing the speed of recovery in the body.
Dessert Wine Calories
Benefits aside, dessert wine is sweeter and higher in sugar levels as compared to other table wines. Below is a tabular comparison of the calories in dessert wine, depending on their type.
|Name of Wine||Serving||Calories||Sugar||Alcohol|
|Late harvest white wine||1 serving (5 fl oz)||172||NA||13.1 g|
|White muscat wine||1 serving (5 fl oz)||123||NA||2.6 g|
|Dry dessert wine||1 serving (3.5 fl oz)||157||1 g||4.5 g|
|Sweet dessert wine||1 glass (3.5 fl oz)||165||8 g||4.5 g|
|Port wine||1 glass (3.5 fl oz)||165||8.01 g||NA|
|Red table wine||1 serving (5 fl oz)||125||0.91 g||15.6 g|
It’s rather obvious that the sweet succulent taste of this wine also means a lot of calories. On an average, the calories in dessert wine are in the range of 120-200 calories, in a 3 oz or 5 oz glass. Comparatively regular wine is just 125 calories. Now if you have at least two glasses of wine or a glass of dessert wine and a rich dessert like chocolate souffle, you are piling on the calories en masse. Perhaps this is where the danger in consuming such a wine lies. Not only is the dessert item itself fattening, you are coupling it with a calorie-filled beverage as well.
In summation, make smart food combinations. Combine dessert wine with plain or low-fat biscuits and pastries. If your dessert is something rich and heavy like cake or tiramisu, skip the wine altogether. Drinking wine everyday is recommended for a healthy life but do not overdo it. Limit yourself to a glass a day.